08 Fringe: “Phil the Void: Comedy Over Quality”

Phil Van Hest of “Phil the Void”

Phil Van Hest’s “Phil the Void” stand-up comedy show was one of my favorites at last year’s Indy Fringe Festival.   I saw it twice, and wrote about it twice on IndianaAuditions.com.  This year (2008) I looked forward to enjoying Phil’s cerebral humor and generous energy again, but within a whole new set of material.

I was delighted by the 2008 “Phil the Void: Comedy Over Quality” show, too.  Oh, my, this man is funny!

He is also thoughtful, and he makes me more thoughtful when I’m around him.  I don’t just mean kind, although he is that.  I also mean that he is thought-provoking, present, aware…and somehow he makes me think more agilely, too.

Last year I loved that he made me feel smarter, like one of the gifted kids, and more hopeful about life in general.  This year I loved that he made me feel…well, at the risk of sounding sappy…this year he made me feel smart and hopeful again, but especially hopeful about relationships.

Not that I didn’t feel hopeful about relationships before – my own and other people’s – but it is great to be reminded of love, especially while you’re gasping with laughter at the same time.

I saw Phil’s show twice this year, too.  The first time was Wednesday night at 6:00, his opening show of the 2008 Fringe.  All of his shows this year took place at the ComedySportz Arena.  

The semi-full house was mostly women. The energy in the room reminded me of that scene in “Sex in the City” when Samantha and a million other well-dressed women are ordering serving after serving of grass soup at the raw foods restaurant in the hopes of getting the hot waiter to go home with them.  I don’t think any of us went home with Phil on Wednesday night but, as he observed, we all left carrying his seed (of humor – I will never hear a car name in the same way again.)

Mind you, the audience was not all single women.  I re-connected with a former co-worker who was there with her husband.  They were missing the Convention on TV in order to catch Phil’s show live.  The husband wasn’t at all sure it was going to be worth it.  However, I heard him laugh out loud at least twice, and after the show he went up to buy one of Phil’s bumper stickers.

The second time I caught Phil’s show was at 9:00 on the second Friday night of the Fringe.  This show was beyond sold out.  There was standing room only, mostly men and couples, no air conditioning, and only one server to take drink orders.  In other words, this audience had a very different, and in some ways surly, energy.

Phil handled us all with a joyful fearlessness.

He ranted against politicians who talk about convincing the voters that they’re trustworthy rather than actually being trustworthy.  He ranted against anti-intellectualism and made fun of politicians who scornfully ask, “Do you want someone smarter than you in the White House?”

You bet I do.  In fact, I want Phil in the White House!

He riffed on corporate blandness…and gnome sayings.  He riffed on the sad ridiculousness of “Tub Girl” and other porn…and the importance of working at a marriage beyond the wedding.  He riffed on the potential silliness in traditional marriage…and the potential sacredness in gay marriage.  He gave us a hilarious glimpse of what he will be like as an old grandpa, and convinced us to get excited about growing old, too.

He told us that his mission in life is to “entertain the enlightened and enrage the ignorant.”  I guess I must be enlightened, because I was thoroughly entertained.

Phil Van Hest left me weak with laughter, and yet filled with courage to take another poke at my own issues.  I hope, I hope, I hope he comes back to the Indy Fringe next year!

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

Leave a Reply